BEMIDJI -- An assortment of BSU faculty and members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 1260 spread out across the green space in front of Deputy Hall at 11 a.m. on Tuesday to raise a flag in honor of veterans both near and far.

Brent Steinmetz, a general repairman at Bemidji State who is currently serving as a member of the Army National Guard, said he helped organize the small event as he’s also a member of Post No. 1260.

“We do something every year -- we’ve got a veterans club and a veterans education guy who helps organize a whole week of things usually,” Steinmetz said. “But he moved on to a new job and the veterans club hasn’t been as active lately. So we asked about it in a meeting a couple weeks ago and everybody kind of went, ‘well shoot we didn’t plan anything.’”

He explained that it’s been hard to make plans with so few people on campus due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, but they still wanted to make an effort to do something in honor of the holiday.

“So, we just decided to throw this together real quick,” Steinmetz said. “We knew we had to do something to show honor and respect to our veterans here and around the world.”

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After going through the order of operations, Post Commander Bruce Malterud and his fellow VFW members Russ Fricke and Michael Gutz stepped up to the flagpole and began lowering the current flag.

VFW Post No. 1260 member Brent Steinmetz, left, trades Post Commander Bruce Malterud the soon-to-be-retired American flag for a new flag near Deputy Hall on Tuesday morning on the Bemidji State campus. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)
VFW Post No. 1260 member Brent Steinmetz, left, trades Post Commander Bruce Malterud the soon-to-be-retired American flag for a new flag near Deputy Hall on Tuesday morning on the Bemidji State campus. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)

Once the soon-to-be-retired flag was unclipped from the rope on the flagpole, Malterud handed it off to Steinmetz. The socially distant crowd of about 20 onlookers stood silently watching as Malterud and Fricke connected the new flag and slowly raised it into the air.

VFW Post No. 1260 members raise a new American flag near Deputy Hall on Tuesday morning on the Bemidji State campus. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)
VFW Post No. 1260 members raise a new American flag near Deputy Hall on Tuesday morning on the Bemidji State campus. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)

VFW Post No. 1260 members raise a new American flag near Deputy Hall on Tuesday morning on the Bemidji State campus. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)
VFW Post No. 1260 members raise a new American flag near Deputy Hall on Tuesday morning on the Bemidji State campus. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)

VFW Post No. 1260 members raise a new American flag near Deputy Hall on Tuesday morning on the Bemidji State campus. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)
VFW Post No. 1260 members raise a new American flag near Deputy Hall on Tuesday morning on the Bemidji State campus. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)

As the flag reached the top of the pole, “Taps” was played by Scott Guidry, associate professor of music at BSU, while the veterans looked up with a salute to the American flag.

“We’re here recognizing our veterans for their service and their sacrifice,” BSU President Faith Hensrud said. “Bemidji State is on a holiday tomorrow for Veterans Day, so that’s why we’re doing this today on the 10th instead of the 11th, but still keeping to the significant 11th hour of the day. And it’s wonderful to have the VFW here to help us do this and honor our veterans.”

The universal recognition of the 11th hour is the celebrated ending of World War I, which took place at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month).